ST. LOUIS, June 8, 2012 – The American Soybean Association (ASA) and several agriculture groups sent a letter to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) encouraging the inclusion of a provision in the House farm bill that would establish an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the USDA.
The letter states that trade organizational structure at the USDA has remained unchanged since it was last reorganized in 1978, despite the value and nature of U.S. agriculture exports changing dramatically.
In 1978, U.S. agriculture exports totaled $29 billion whereas in 2011 they reached $136 billion, according to the letter.
“In 1978, grains and oilseeds amounted to 60 percent of all U.S. agriculture exports while meat and poultry accounted for 3 percent and produce 6 percent. Now grains and oilseeds account for 36 percent of all agriculture exports while meat and poultry constitute 15 percent and produce 13 percent,” wrote the groups. “Meanwhile, over the last 30 years the challenges that U.S. agriculture faces in global markets have increased and markedly changed from primarily tariff barriers to phytosanitary and other non-tariff trade barriers.”
Also in the letter, ASA and its colleagues highlighted the coordination and streamlined cooperation within USDA that the new post would offer.
“An Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs will provide a singular focus on trade and foster more effective coordination of transparent, rules-based trade policies in other USDA agencies,” the letter concludes.
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